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Voyaging: A Photo Excursion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Voyaging: A Photo Excursion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, PA is a lively, historic and beautiful town that’ll make you not want to leave. If yinz haven’t been there yet, you must go as soon as possible. When I was getting into photography, one of the earliest bodies of work I saw was 

Why Cleveland, Ohio is Perfect for Street Photography

When it comes to street photography, there are heaps of places that come to mind. New York City, Chicago, Paris and many others have been the settings for legendary street photographers such Daniel Arnold, Vivian Meier and Henri Cartier-Bresson. After all, they are incredible cities 

How to Do Winter Street Photography

The ability to capture a genuine, authentic moment in time is what immediately drew me into photography. There’s a magic to photographing a scene and knowing you did it without posing or manipulating a scene.

Once I discovered that street photography encapsulated this type of photography, I was hooked. Wandering outside in public spaces, anticipating compositions and clicking the shutter button is what fulfilled me. To this day, this is my favorite and most fulfilling type of photography.

Marquette, Michigan

The characteristics that make street photography great—genuine moments, authenticity, life—are what guided me toward the path of earning a degree in photojournalism.

If you enjoy street photography, and/or don’t know a lot about it, hopefully this post will shine some light on the topic.

There are probably seemingly infinite definitions for ‘street photography’. To me, ‘street photography’ means creating photographic work, of whatever subject you choose, that isn’t posed.

Winter can be a particularly challenging time for street photography. Worry not, though, fellow street photographer, for winter is one of the best times for street photography.

Marquette, Michigan

You may be thinking,”Why?”

The reason is that it can be beautiful. When snow falls it does a wonderful job of making colors pop. Another reason that winter is great for street photography is that the winter light outside, at least in the Midwest, is usually cloudy.

Cloudy weather is wonderful for creating soft, subdued light. This quality of light is perfect for images that aren’t too full of contrast or harsh shadows.

Of course, there are challenges to photographing outside during the winter. Some of these challenges are the fact that batteries can drain quickly and your hands can get cold if you don’t have warm gloves. The solution to these problems is to have a spare battery and keep it somewhere warm, like a pocket. As far as cold fingers go, I prefer to wear flip-top gloves. With these types of gloves, you can operate your camera while making sure your hands and fingers don’t get too chilly.

Marquette, Michigan

The most important tip about how to do street photography in winter is to simply do it. Go outside and photograph whatever you’d like. When you edit your photos, study what you’ve done and make notes about what you like and what you’d change.

This analysis of your pictures will help you the next time you venture out to make pictures and will result in you making better photographs.

In photography, the simple act of doing it will make you better.

Recently, my partner and I took a trip to beautiful Marquette, Michigan. There hasn’t been much snow where we live, so the extra snow we encountered by traveling north of home was a welcome sight.

The temperatures when we were there were predicted to be really cold. That prediction was correct.

Seeing how much beautiful snow was falling, though, more than made up for any worries about cold. The phrase by Ansel Adams that,”bad weather makes good photographs” is entirely true.

We stayed downtown at the historic Landmark Inn and it was perfect. One benefit of staying at this location was that it was centrally located. We were already downtown so it was easy to walk around to interesting places.

In fact, the view from our hotel window was so wonderful that I was able to capture some images from our room. A good scene is a good scene, no matter where you are.

Marquette, Michigan

My camera setup was my Canon 6D and a 50mm lens. This is another important tip: It’s important, or at least, really helpful, to use a camera you’re familiar with. I’ve owned the original Canon 6D for more than ten years. The benefit to this is that I’ve become really adept at using the camera. It’s second nature at this point to operate the camera effectively. The result of having spent so much time with this camera is that I can react quickly if a quick photo needs to be made.

The 50mm lens is one of my favorite lenses. The view through this type of lens is as natural as can be, to me, and photographing with it is natural.

Marquette, Michigan

One great tip for improving your photography is that you should use one camera and lens for a while and notice how comfortable you become with it. The ability to not have to think about your equipment and to know how your lens will frame an image will result in you being able to think and react to photographs incredibly quickly.

Hopefully some of the simple tips in this post help you. The important thing to do is to simply go outside in the snow and become accustomed to the weather and your equipment. Stay comfortable by wearing warm clothes. The more you photograph in the winter, the more used to it you’ll become.

The most important tip is to have fun and enjoy the wonderful scenes that winter has to offer.

Why It’s Time to be Careful When Flying with Film

Photographing with film is my absolute favorite method of capturing images. If it wasn’t for the cost and sometimes inconvenience, I’d photograph with film all the time. Alas, there are costs and inconveniences that result from photographing with film. It would seem that inconveniences have 

Why 35mm Film is Perfect for Architectural Photography

When the pandemic had resulted in so many aspects of life to be put on hold back in 2020, my photographic interests turned from people to architecture. My partner, Meg, had given me a photo book of Detroit architecture and it really spoke to me. 

Why the iPhone was Perfect for Colorado and Rocky Mountain National Park

Every year for the past eight years we’ve traveled to Colorado for Thanksgiving. Our families are small so that makes it simple to pack our things and meet up in one of the most beautiful sections of the U.S. I’ve ever seen.

Call it the photographer’s dilemma, but one thing I used to have a really tough time doing is selecting which camera I was going to bring. That was then, though. Lately, I’ve had no problems with this decision.

One of the reasons for this is that I’ve dedicated myself and my photography to whichever camera I bring, and I’ve told myself that I’ll use whatever I have to the best of my abilities.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Going on as many trips as we have, I’ve become a lot more streamlined in my photographic equipment choices. So when it came time to choose a picture-making tool this year, I went with the simplest and most convenient camera I could think of—my iPhone.

At this point, the iPhone has any photographic feature I could ever want in a camera: it’s quick; the lens is sharp; and it can focus incredibly fast.

These characteristics become paramount in my photographic outings.

On one morning we left before sunrise to see how the early-morning rays would treat the surroundings. It was tough to leave the comfort of bed, but I simply grabbed my phone and headed out the door.

Denver, Colorado

As we walked into the Rocky Mountain National Park, we noticed a variety of cabins and structures that were situated perfectly along a mountain river. Since I enjoy architectural photography, it was fun walking around some of the cabins since they were so simply built, but so effective for their intended purposes.

I enjoyed the speed of the iPhone as I was able to quickly adjust my compositions and framing. The iPhone truly has taken almost all of the hassle out of photography.

The light was gorgeous in the early-morning hours and we had a fantastic time photographing anything we saw and found interesting.

Estes Park, Colorado

Later on, we decided to go on a group hike toward Cub Lake. As soon as we exited the car we walked toward a roof-covered section of benches from which I laced my hiking boots. As soon as I sat down, two magpies quickly flew over to me and landed.

My iPhone allowed me to respond almost instantaneously and make some pictures of them. The pictures were good, but when I’m photographing, I’m always trying to think, “What can make this photo better.”

There was a trail nearby that I began walking toward, and once I stepped toward a section of the trail one of the magpie landed perfectly on the post, as it was surrounded by some fresh-falling snow. I was able to quickly grab my iPhone and photograph the bird.

Rocky Mountain National Park

It’s not that I couldn’t have made some fine images on this trip out West, but the speed and abilities of the iPhone made the photographic process extremely easy.

Finally, one fantastic and underutilized aspect of the iPhone is it’s ability to capture files that can be printed at a decent size.

Few people make actual prints these days, which is too bad, because having a quality print on the wall is like the ultimate final step for an image.

Rocky Mountain National Park

Most cell-phone cameras, especially the newer ones, can capture files that can be printed easily at 11″x14″, and oftentimes larger.

So, the next time you’re heading out on an adventure, near or far, grab your cell-phone camera and have fun.

Why You Don’t Always Have to Photograph During the Golden Hour

It is written in many tutorials that in order to photograph successfully, one must photograph during the Hour of Gold. Fear not, fellow photographers, for a beautiful photograph may be captured any time you’re out with your camera, even if that time isn’t the golden 

Why the Canon AE-1 Makes a Great Film Camera

Choosing the right film camera can be incredibly overwhelming. There are seemingly endless options out there for you to use. But, worry not. If you’re looking for a simple camera that can be found for a reasonable price, the Canon AE-1 gets the job done, 

How Film Photography Can Make You A Better Portrait Photographer

Portrait photography is one of my favorite genres within the craft. To meet someone and make a portrait of that person, or people, is special.

While working for different newspapers, it was portraits that made up so many daily assignments. The goal was to photograph someone creatively in a way to would tell a story pertaining to the individual.

Idlewild, Michigan
Camera: Mamiya 7

Admittedly, portraits used to be a type of photography that wasn’t my favorite. My favorite type of photography used to be street photography, or something like it. I still enjoy it tremendously. I’d always envisioned—perhaps like so many other photojournalists—of being the next Cartier-Bresson, walking the streets of a picturesque city while creating compositions within my viewfinder that pleased the eyes of all that would look at my images.

However, over time, I began to truly appreciate the portrait. After seeing some portraits made by Diane Arbus, Arnold Newman and Dan Winters—and even Cartier-Bresson made some gorgeous portraits while staying in his style—I began to find the draw to portraiture.

After photographing more and more people, for assignments and otherwise, my confidence with portrait photography began to grow.

I began to believe in myself and to feel that I care enough about making a quality portrait that I can do it, and do it well.

My portrait photography enjoyment has even reached a point to where I’m enjoying photographing strangers. I should say, my portrait subjects are strangers when we first meet, but varying connections do form throughout the portrait session, so where not strangers by the end of the portrait session.

Portrait sessions can happen quickly and unexpectedly. They’re no telling when, how and/or where you’ll encounter someone that would make a good portrait. This is part of the excitement.

One of my favorite cameras to make portraits with is not a famed portrait camera at all. It’s the Mamiya 7. The Mamiya 7 is a rangefinder camera that uses medium format film. It’s easy to use and the quality of the lenses is superb.

Detroit, Michigan
Camera: Mamiya 7

Now, you definitely don’t need a Mamiya 7 camera to make great portraits. You can make a great portrait with any camera.

I only bring up this camera because it’s what taught me some valuable lessons.

The Mamiya 7, especially when using it to make portraits, requires focus (literally and figuratively) and attention. It’s not an easy camera to make portraits with. The viewfinder is such that two images of your subject have to line up in order to be in focus. A small movement forward or backward can render your image blurry.

Another aspect of using the Mamiya 7 that helped me improve my portrait photography is the fact that only ten images can be made on a roll of 120 film. With the cost of film, processing and scanning, that works out to about $3.00 per image made. Since money isn’t growing on a tree outside my window, that’s enough money to make me take my time to make sure my photograph is good.

Detroit, Michigan
Camera: Mamiya 7

Also, photo subjects can tell when you’re taking your time and trying your best to make an image. I think that when they see you’re serious, they tend to take the shoot a little more seriously, too.

Of course, there are those who are disciplined and talented enough to be able to capture excellent portrait photos with digital camera equipment. I find that once I photograph with film for a while, I’m able to transfer how I shoot over to digital. After a while though, I tend to get more lax on my practices and I have to go back to film.

Most importantly, you photograph how you want to photograph and using techniques that work best for you. I’m only mentioning what works for me. And, I’m mentioning it because perhaps my techniques will work for you also.

If you’re looking for a fun new experience, try photographing with any type of film camera and see how it goes. I’m confident you’ll enjoy the process of slowing down and the excitement of waiting for your film scans to return.

Ways to be Creative During the Summer

The creative journey is different for everyone. It can be a slow ascent, then a whiplash-fast descent and everything in-between, and then it can change again. And that’s okay, because it’s all part of that journey. Do not fret fellow creatives. There are ways to